Barack Obama's Visit to Israel Fails To Ignite Faded Peace Hopes — On Either Side

Israelis and Palestinians United in Bleak Outlook

An Eternity Ago: Then-candidate Barack Obama meets with Israeli Pinhas Amar to see damage from Palestinian rockets in his home in Sderot. Amar was impressed with Obama, but has become disillusioned in the four years since.
getty images
An Eternity Ago: Then-candidate Barack Obama meets with Israeli Pinhas Amar to see damage from Palestinian rockets in his home in Sderot. Amar was impressed with Obama, but has become disillusioned in the four years since.

By Reuters

Published March 14, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

In the market of Gaza’s Beach refugee camp, Baha al-Haddad, 45, a public servant, predicted nothing would come of Obama’s visit. “He will make another speech and make promises but it will only be words without fulfilment,” he said.

In November last year, days after Obama’s election to a second term, Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip, fought an eight-day war in which some 170 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed.

Gaza was pummelled by air, land and sea while rockets exploded in Israeli towns, including Sderot, just across the border from the enclave.

The United States funds Israel’s missile interceptor system, Iron Dome, which blew up many of the incoming rockets. Nevertheless, some Sderot residents do not believe Obama has their best interests at heart.

“It would be disastrous without Iron Dome,” said Yaffa Malka, 49, a hairdresser who has lived in Sderot her entire life. “But all he (Obama) cares about is talking about a Palestinian state and not how to stop Hamas arming itself.”

WEST BANK

In the occupied West Bank, mistrust of Obama is one of the only things Palestinians and Israeli settlers share.

“I don’t think Obama’s a player. I don’t think he’s proved to be effective on either side really, not on the Arab side and not on the Jewish side and no one really cares what he has to say,” said Aliza Herbst, 60, a yoga teacher and former settler spokeswoman.

In the past year, the White House has voiced condemnation of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, which U.S. presidents have described for decades as an obstacle to peace.

“I didn’t know how bad he would be for Israel,” Herbst said, sitting in her sunny garden in Ofra settlement, where she has been living for the past 31 years. “He’s probably one of the most anti-Israel presidents, certainly in my lifetime and maybe in the history of the United States.”

The Obama administration rejects the suggestion that he is less supportive of Israel than previous U.S. presidents, and points to strong cooperation with Israel on security matters.

Meanwhile, despite failing to win over many Israelis, Obama also lost support among Palestinians last year when he opposed a successful Palestinian bid for recognition as a de facto state by the U.N. Generally Assembly.

In the West Bank town of Tubas, Loai Dawwas, a 41-year-old pharmacist, said Obama’s rejection of the U.N. recognition bid quashed Palestinian faith in him.

“He is a man of speeches like the speech he had gave in Cairo, but what did he implement of those promises? Nothing. And he will not do anything useful for us. America is good for Israel only,” Dawwas said.

Mohammad Zaid, a grocer in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, also predicted Obama’s visit would lead nowhere, even as change is sweeping through other countries in the region.

“The Arab world is a mess. Look at Libya, Syria, Egypt. Palestine is an easier issue than all that. But we don’t think Obama is going to change anything,” Zaid said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.